Beauty Idol: Akua Wood from Sheabutter Cottage

Akua WoodAkua Wood is a bit of a veteran when it comes to the beauty business, having been running Sheabutter Cottage for over ten years. Her products are very much revered and talked about and a real favourite by beautynistas in the UK. She has won many awards such as GUBA and AWE. She took some time out of her busy schedule to give us an insight into her career. What made you decide to set up your own beauty business? This was mainly due to my frustration in trying to find a natural range of toiletries to moisturise and sooth my slightly sensitive skin. I love mixing natural ingredients and wanted to offer others the opportunity to sample some of these including my beloved shea butter aka nkuto.

What is the concept behind Sheabutter Cottage? A shop for trade and for retail providing highest quality natural products. Our belief in the use of ingredients and products in its natural form possible such as our much loved unrefined shea butter.

You operate a fair trade policy. Why is this important to you? We have for the last 12 years worked closely with a number of co-operatives around the world. It is important to ensure that these co-operatives are allowed to grow and develop by receiving a fair and reasonable income for their effort and products. Establishing good relationships enriches the quality of the products and allows for cultural improvements. It is not uncommon in developing countries that workers/employees are trying to survive with minimal income. We try our best when we can, to improve the situation by contributing to health insurance and community building projects.

What sort of research did you do to find out what sort of hair products your customers wanted to buy? The hair industry is continually growing. I put myself in my customers’ shoes to provide what I will need for my type of natural hair as well as those looking for natural products without foam boosters nor ingredients just for label appeal.

How did you decide on the look and feel of the brand? It is very important for me to incorporate my Ghanaian heritage. Our current logo is a tribute to my father’s artwork back in 1976.

What are your future plans for the brand? To tap into more resources and offer exotic natural oils/butters to our growing customer base.

What are your favourite beauty products? I keep it very very simple with unrefined shea butter.

What advice do you have for anyone who wants to set up their own beauty business? Set your own vision for your brand and products. It is a very competitive market, believe in yourself and be patient with any growth.

You can follow Akua on Twitter.